2013-03-21 / Front Page

DDA explained; where funds go, how they are collected

MANISTIQUE – With possible Manistique Downtown Development Authority plan amendments, including an extension, right around the corner, some are left wondering what, exactly, the DDA does.

According to DDA documents, the Authority was formed in 1988, and used a TIF (tax increment financing) plan to outline its goals for the next 30 years. At that time, the DDA district was drawn, and property valuations within that area were frozen for the city and county. The increase in property values, as well as the taxable value of any new construction (with-in the district boundaries), over the next 25 years was, and continues to be, collected by the DDA.

Rather than having these funds go into the general budgets of the county and city, the Authority has a different goal – to continue to use these funds for the betterment of Schoolcraft County.

Since property values fluctuate from year to year, so does the DDA budget. In 2012, the Authority captured just over $530,000 in local taxes to put toward its projects and maintenance.

In 25 years, the DDA has used their funds to assist or complete projects totaling approximately $6.5 million, including: boardwalk construction, River Street, Cedar Street, Houghton Avenue, Saginaw Avenue, Schoolcraft Avenue, Range Street, Lakeside Road infrastructure projects; the Crosby Hotel demolition; the construction of Triangle Park; Five Points Park project; building a passing lane by Pamida; matching a Community Development Block Grant; constructing a fish cleaning station; constructing Veteran’s Drive; and more.

The DDA also installed the light poles in the downtown area and pays for their maintenance and the electricity bill.

Currently, the DDA is requesting that the city allow it to extend its life past the 2018 expiration date in order address unfinished projects in its original plan and adequately fund for the reconstruction of the marina.

The approximately $4 million dollar reconstruction project, half of which will be covered by a grant, and half from the DDA has been in the works for the past three years. The grant has already been awarded to the city and the match would be acquired through bonds.

In order to receive the bond, however, the DDA would need to be extended, and continue capturing tax dollars to pay for it. Phase one included dredging of the Manistique River at a cost of roughly $1.6 million dollars.

Phase two and three includes a rebuild of the current marina, including: construction of new broadside docking, replacing binwalls, constructing new floating piers, installing pumpout stations and a fuel station, constructing a new harbormaster’s house and public restrooms, constructing parking lot improvements and installing playground equipment.

The city will be considering the DDA’s request in an upcoming meeting. An amendment to the original TIF plan, as well as a resolution of support will be presented to city council members. If approved, a public hearing will follow.

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